Want free baby swag? Start hosting neighborhood baby swaps!

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Baby Hats

Once every few months, I host a Baby Swap. While this might sound like we get together and trade kids, that’s not exactly the gist. It’s one part party, one part shopping or trading baby-related items. It’s easy to do — you can even do it at a park if you don’t have space at home.

To start your swap, invite people with kids who are within a few years age of your kids. Invite pregnant couples, friends of friends with kids, neighbors, people from playgroup, etc. It’s ok if some people don’t have anything to donate — there is always plenty of stuff. I use Facebook events but any means you use to get the word out will do. I like to host our swaps potluck style, and I usually provide coffee, tea, and juice. But you know… mimosas might be fun.

It’s good for the host to provide boxes, laundry baskets, or plastic tubs for guests to sort their donations into. Here is an important note: sort by SIZE, not gender, type of clothes, or color. Its much easier for guests to go to the box of stuff that is the size their kids need rather than have to look at every tag in a variety of bins to see what will fit. If you’re Super Organized, you could do size AND type, but that’s a lot of boxes. I also set aside a box for hats, shoes, and other accessories, and one for blankets, diapers, and miscellaneous items. If a lot of people plan on bringing toys and books, or gear like baby carriers, have bins for that, too. Label the bins.

Ask beforehand that your guests bring things that are:

  • Gently used, and clean. Badly stained and damaged stuff won’t get taken.
  • Stuff they are not attached to. If it’s special to them, they should not loan it out. Baby stuff gets lost and ruined.
  • Donated gear that is smallish and portable. If guests are not planning to take home what does not get taken, then bringing a crib that doesn’t get taken would be a pain for the host. Think bouncers, mobiles, and umbrella strollers — not gliders or big pieces of furniture. If you want to donate big stuff, bring a picture of it, with measurements, and offer it up. Arrange for pickup at a later date.
  • I recommend not selling stuff at a free stuff swap. It might get taken by someone before you get the opportunity to let them know it was not free. You can, of course, make it a sale instead of a swap, if that’s what you want to host.

After it’s all done you can pick a charity to donate leftovers to — some will even pick them up at your house! Here are a few: Baby Buggy, Baby2Baby, Cradles to Crayons, and Room To Grow.

Comments on Want free baby swag? Start hosting neighborhood baby swaps!

  1. I love this idea! Recently I have attended both a Naked Lady party (bring unwanted clothing and accesories, drink wine, pick from what others have brought, go home with tons of “new” stuff) and a homemade, homegrown food swap (bring homemade or homegrown goods and negotiate swaps with other swappers). It’s so awesome that these kinds of eco-friendly, community building events are catching on!

  2. I hosted one of these, too. We also did women’s clothing on top of baby stuff, so the moms got to “shop” for themselves. The moms ended up doing better for themselves than for the kids, because we ended up having oddly matched ages and genders and tastes on the kid-front. We did it as a mom’s day out, without the kids. We did it free-for-all style, with everyone just rummaging and taking what they wanted. This worked out pretty well.

    Another friend hosted a toy swap. Everyone got one tag for each item they brought. You could put your tag on any item you wanted, and if more than one person wanted the same item, the tags were put into a bag and a winner was drawn. This sounds more fair but it actually worked out pretty badly. The same person’s name ended up being drawn for almost every item with multiple names on it, and I think some people felt slighted that they didn’t leave with anything they actually wanted. Kids were crying over the toys they didn’t get. All around a little less enjoyable!

    The no.1 rule of swapping is definitely “Come with an attitude of giving”. Don’t bring stuff you’ll be disappointed to lose if you don’t get something awesome.

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